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May Day May Day 30/04/2015

Posted by zoidion in Photography, Weather.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Twin Cities ephemera: It’s freaky dry out there, for the end of April. Since I started “seriously” endeavoring to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, this is the first time I can recall using collected rainwater to keep the soil surface damp enough for seeds to germinate. (At least, as of last week, we have here a “low tunnel” to help warm the soil in one of the raised beds while reducing the intensity of the sunlight.)
It’s much the same situation across most of Minnesota, where now stage two of drought reigns.
(The total of back yard precipitation for the month is 2.05 inches, compared to a local average 2.66 inches.)
I saw plenty of drought evidence yesterday on a short journey south and east of the Cities. I saw a number of dry creeks that should have running water, and very low water in the misnamed Cannon River: the early French explorers and traders called it River aux Canots (Canoe River, referring to canoes frequently left concealed at its mouth at the Mississippi) — then as now, Amurcans had problems with spelling and comprehension. And I saw many vast and dusty farm fields, tanks of anhydrous ammonia, and massive trucks rumbling down gravel roads, kicking up great plumes.
There were some pleasant aspects to the sojourn, though: particularly my visit to River Terrace Prairie, a state “scientific and natural area.”


Along the somewhat moister northern edge of the terrace, I encountered colonies of prairie smoke and pasqueflower, but I was probably visiting too late in the season for a chance at seeing the rare and threatened kitten-tails.



Meanwhile, feverish preparations continue for the annual May Day Parade and Festival, a marvelous and massive grassroots celebration of spring that attracts tens of thousands of participants and spectators. Among a certain contingent of the local population, it’s a big deal, anticipated with great eagerness and trepidation: What will the weather be like?
Scheduled — the first Sunday in May — around the date of the average last spring frost, the weather is as likely to be chilly or rainy as sunny and warm.
And yet, more than once it has seemed that focused collective desire has held back threatening rain until festivities were complete.
One year (2005) when I was involved in preparing the park for the festival, marching in the parade, and “tearing down” in the park, the weather was . . . uh, challenging throughout. Some snow was flying but not accumulating during setup, and I was glad for the long underwear I wore for the march; but all of us who took part in the teardown had to contend with a cold rain.
That year, May Day really was on May Day, and the date of the last quarter Moon. With water sign Cancer appearing on the lower meridian of the season chart, wet and relatively cold was the norm for spring 2005. With Moon and a “stationary” (from Earth’s vantage point) Saturn also in Cancer — well, that’s a really bleak combination.
Add to that the lunar phase, which correlates with the “winter” quarter of the lunar cycle, along with the Moon’s conjunction with Neptune that day, and one has the main ingredients for a gloomy occasion. Which completely fit the nature of one significant portion of the parade: an invitation to publicly grieve for all the dead resulting from the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The cosmic setup is much different this year, when the season chart features Sun, Moon, Mars, Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn in fire signs, with Saturn and fire sign Sagittarius at the key lower meridian. Thus, relatively warm and definitely dry for the season.
Festival Day on 3 May has Moon reaching fullness after dark, still in second quarter phase — correlating with summer — during the day. Thus, it has been a dry week, the driest of the month, with the temperature gradually climbing: The Moon has crossed only the spot in the sky held by Jupiter, in fire sign Leo.
At this point, the US Weather Service forecasts half a chance of thunderstorms for the day, with a thirty percent chance of scattered showers on the first. The planetary charts show little moisture available for anything more than local-area storms, essentially congruent with the forecast.
Violent winds could erupt on the first, especially in the afternoon and evening, as Moon in windy Libra opposes the positions of Uranus and Mars in the season chart. This date looks more potentially troublesome.
On the third, with Moon in watery Scorpio and having “gathered” some moisture from the opposition to the season position of Venus, there’s a reasonable chance of a given place’s dust getting settled.
As for Powderhorn Park, better plan to bring along at least a rain jacket. And be mentally ready to join in some crowd weather-working magic.


P.S.  I noted a story on the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft, whose eleven year-mission is expected to end today as it crashes into Mercury’s surface. It has been in orbit around Mercury for the past three years, during which time it has mapped ancient lava flows and confirmed the presence of ice in perpetually dark craters near the poles. (Mercury’s planetary surface temperatures are estimated to range from a daytime 800 degrees F to a nighttime minus 300 F.)



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